Hello all, and welcome to The Raw Files, a weekly look at past episodes of Raw starting from the very first show and working chronologically through them all. These flashbacks will be brought to you by two different writers, as Arnold Furious will cover the odd-numbered months, and I (James Dixon) the even numbers. We are doing things this way as that is how we covered them in our book ‘The Raw Files: 1993’ (available now at lulu.com and Amazon kindle). This is a serialisation of that tome, which we are making available exclusively at wrestlingrambles.com. We are thrilled to be here! Enjoy…
01.11.93 – EPISODE #1
by Arnold Furious
Manhattan Center, NY
1000 (600 paid)
19:41 / 41.8%
Hosts are Vince McMahon, Randy Savage and Rob Bartlett. The latter being a comedian that Vince hired to give Raw a “cutting edge”.
Koko B. Ware vs. Yokozuna
Bartlett starts by reaching for fat jokes. Jerry Lawler wouldn’t even use this material, it’s that cheap. “That’s one big-butted Oriental, Vince”. The combination of his cheap shots, Savage’s pre-planned crap and Vince’s inability to hold it all together is horrible. Bad choices all round. I don’t like “edgy” wrestling programming when it isn’t edgy. Yoko is undefeated and hasn’t even been knocked off his feet. Koko is a jobber. Raw’s initial concept as a prime-time wrestling show wasn’t fully fleshed out. Yoko doesn’t so much no-sell as ignore Koko’s moves completely. Legdrop, butt splash and the Banzai Drop finishes. Not so much a contest but rather an advertisement for Yoko’s dominance and his “favourite” tag for the forthcoming Royal Rumble.
Final Rating: ¼*.
Video Control takes us to Bobby Heenan who talks about the debuting new talent: Narcissus. That’d end up being a slightly repackaged Lex Luger.
The Steiner Brothers vs. The Executioners
The non-Steiner team might as well be called “The Masked Jobbers”, because that’s what they are. Vince McMahon manages to get sidetracked by “Dork the Clown” as Rob Bartlett suckers him into mispronouncing it. The Steiners have fun mangling the two scrubs, just throwing them around at will. The jobbers get NOTHING and the doomsday bulldog finishes. Another absolute squash. At least this one was fun. Scott Steiner knows how to mangle the enhancement guys.
Final Rating: *
Backstage: security has detained Bobby Heenan in drag pretending to Rob Bartlett’s aunt.
Interview Time: Razor Ramon. He’s out to talk to Vince McMahon about Razor’s title shot at the Rumble. Vince points out Bret’s experience and calls Razor a “Johnny-Come-Lately”. Horrible production during this as we get Razor talking about squashing Owen Hart “like a cack-a-rawch” while footage of the incident plays drowning out the promo. Razor says he’s taking the title and flicks his toothpick at Vince’s hairpiece. He was sure popular with the New York crowd.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Max Moon
Max is Paul Diamond, filling out ring gear designed specifically for Konnan by Konnan. He sold the rights to the gimmick and suit to the WWF, but left after just three TV dark matches as Moon. This match looks pre-planned with sequences both guys know are coming. It hurts the vibe. If I’m fully aware of what’s next, that damages the suspension of disbelief. The crowd loudly chants “let’s go Shawn”. Gotta love New Yorkers. Diamond tries to throw in some lucha-libre, perhaps paying tribute to the man who created Max Moon. Incidentally, Rob Bartlett is grinding at me with his terrible jokes. He really was the pits as an announcer. Oddly enough WCW would hire a left-field colour commentator when Nitro debuted too, in the form of Steve McMichael, mimicking rather than learning from Raw. Bartlett lowers the bar once again by impersonating Mike Tyson with almost the exact same voice as Adam Sandler uses for his old Jewish lady jokes. He runs the gag into the ground. It is just awful. I honestly don’t remember hearing Rob Bartlett before sitting down to recap the early Raws. He’s a frigging disaster. Shawn bumps around for Max even though Moon’s best move is throwing his crotch into Shawn’s face. Shawn eventually gets sick of it and superkicks Max. That wasn’t his finish at the time though so he hauls Moon up for the teardrop suplex. Shawn retains in Raw’s first title defence.
Final Rating: **
Time for the filler as Gene Okerlund prepares us for the Royal Rumble with extensive shilling. The way they were building Shawn-Jannetty for the Rumble suggested a more violent match than they had. I guess given the expectations the match was a disappointment, but its technically solid. The shenanigans continue as “Uncle Morty” tries to sneak in and that’s Bobby Heenan’s second disguise of the evening. This time as Rob Bartlett’s extremely Jewish uncle. Raw is so short on material for its first episode that we have a feature on Kamala being converted to Christianity by Slick.
The Undertaker vs. Damien Demento
This would be the main event of the first ever Raw. A momentous occasion, but a lousy match. I love that Savage makes a pun and no-one notices. Of Paul Bearer; “he’s definitely urned [sic] the right to be the Undertaker’s manager”. Do you see what he did there? No one else did. Demento is quite dreadful so Taker treats him like a jobber, which he is, and finishes with a botched Tombstone. Raw might have gone on to become one of wrestling’s most amazing and successful TV shows, but this was an abysmal start.
Final Rating: DUD
Interview Time: Vince brings out Doink to abuse Crush. The Hawaiian comes out, brah, and tells Doink, brah, that he’ll break all his limbs, brah, if he continues to make all the kiddies cry out here, brah.
Finally we head outside where Sean Mooney tells Bobby Heenan he can enter the building now… as we go off the air.
THE RAW RECAP
Most Entertaining: Scott Steiner for suplexing jobbers around like they were going out of fashion.
Least Entertaining: Rob Bartlett. His Mike Tyson impression is the most cringe-worthy impression I’ve ever heard, and he just didn’t know when to quit.
Quote of the Night: “Dork the Clown, what a name for a wrestler!” – Vince McMahon
Match of the Night: Shawn Michaels vs. Max Moon
Verdict: Honestly, the first show is a catastrophe. The wrestling isn’t good, the comedy isn’t funny and there’s nothing important happening. The only part of the show I really enjoyed was The Steiners murdering a couple of ham and eggers. While it’s historically important, it’s not really worth 40 minutes of your time.
Rating: 25 / 100
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